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Voters May Consider Run-Off Elections if Lake Wales Commission Approves Charter Referendum

Decision to Advance Change to Be Considered Tuesday

After perhaps the closest election in Lake Wales City Commission history, the city's governing board seems poised to propose a change to the Lake Wales Municipal Charter that will provide for run-off elections beginning in 2026.

If approved by the commission, the charter change requires voter approval and will appear on the April 1, 2025, ballot along with the election for mayor.

The change is under consideration after two three-way races in the most recent cycles left both a commissioner and the mayor's seat filled by individuals elected only by a plurality of voters, rather than a majority, a situation that has been criticized.

The commission heard a presentation on the issue at their regular workshop from City Clerk Jennifer Nanek, who will face the bulk of the additional workload to conduct future runoffs if needed. Nanek explained that the operations of the runoff would exactly repeat the duties required to conduct the normal annual commission elections, including her near-daily trips to the office of the Supervisor of Elections to deal with mailed ballots.

The last time a runoff election was conducted in Lake Wales was in September 1993 after a four-person race, according to Nanek.

The April election this year saw the commission race between Daniel Williams and Brandon Alvarado come down to a four-vote difference, leaving Williams reelected with 42.3 percent of the votes cast. On election night, prior to the canvassing board review, the difference was a single vote, raising the threat of a coin-flip deciding the matter in the three-way race..

Lake Wales' five person commission includes three year terms, so seats 3 and 5 commissioners are normally elected together, while seats 2 and 4 are chosen the following year. The third year of the rotation see the election of the mayor only.

The city commission is expected to vote on the issue at Tuesday's 6 p.m. meeting.


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